This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
Experimental fasts in which men and women have taken part are, perhaps, more numerous than we think. Profs. Carlson and Kunde, of the University of Chicago, made a few experiments of this nature a few years ago. Their fasts were of relatively short duration. At this time, I believe that Dr. Carlson is conducting experiments with the fast and he is said to take occasional short fasts himself. But few experimental fasts of considerable duration have been made in man.
Dr. Luigi Luciani, professor of Physiology in the University of Rome, studied a thirty days fast undergone by Succi in 1889.
Victor Pashutin, director of the Imperial Military Medical Academy, Petrograd, Russia, performed a number of experiments upon animals, and investigated cases of death from starvation in man and published the results of his researches in his Pathological Physiology of Inanition.
Dr. Francis Gano Benedict, of the Carnegie Institute at Roxbury, Mass., published a book some years ago, entitled the "Metabolism of Inanition." In spite of the care observed in the conduct of his fasting experiments and the skill with which the various tests and measurements were carried out, very few decisive results came from these experiments, for they were based on short fasts, the longest one of seven days, having been that of a hypochondriac, who, according to Tucsek, being abnormal, could not produce normal physiological results. It is also true that the first few days of the fast witness the worst troubles, so that the results of these short fasts were very misleading, or as Prof. Levanzin says, "that great book on which the Carnegie Institute squandered six thousand dollars is not worth the paper on which it was printed." Benedict's discussion of past experiments with the fast is devoted to fasts in healthy subjects and this can throw but little light on the importance of the fast in disease.
In 1912 Professor Agostino Levanzin, of Malta, came to America to be studied by Prof. Benedict, while he underwent a fast of thirty-one days' duration. His fast was commenced on April 13, 1912 at a weight of "less than two pounds over 132 pounds, normal weight, according to the Yale University measurements, my height being five feet, six, and one-half inches." Levanzin thinks that this is an important point in every fast. He points out that professional fasters, like hibernating animals, generally overeat before they start fasting and accumulate a good store of fat and other reserves. He thinks that, due to this fact, the long fasts previously studied were of the destruction of adipose tissue and not of the whole body. He attempted to avoid this "mistake" by starting his fast at "normal" body weight. It was his opinion that the length of the fast is of no importance if it is not started from normal body weight. He was of the opinion that man can lose sixty percent of his normal body-weight without any risk of death or damage to his health. He says that the greatest part of the normal body weight is also a storage of food.
"At the outset of my fast my exact weight was a shade over 133½ pounds (60.6 kilograms). At the conclusion of the thirty-one days of my fast, I weighed barely 104½ pounds (47.4 kilograms), a total loss of twenty-nine pounds during the fast. Throughout the fast tests were taken of my pulse rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, respiration volume, blood examination, anthropometrical measurements, urine analysis, and growth of hair, not to mention innumerable other observations of my mental and physical condition from day to day."